What is the Small Business Wage Subsidy Program (SBWS) and How to Apply

sbws-financial-assistance

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only caused financial struggles to the poorest of the poor but also to the middle class workers and employees of small businesses.

Since the enhanced community quarantine started, many employees have been on “no work, no pay” status and some have even lost their jobs.

Thanks to the national government for providing the Small Business Wage Subsidy or SBWS Program for affected employees of small businesses.

The ₱51-billion wage subsidy program program covers around 3.4 million workers in the formal sector.

These are the workers employed by some 1.5 million businesses that are either forced to shut down or can only operate under skeletal force due to the health emergency.

How much is the Small Business Wage Subsidy?

A wage subsidy of between ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 per month (based on the regional minimum wage) will be provided for every eligible employee.

This wage subsidy shall be given for up to two months so that affected small businesses are able to retain their employees during the quarantine period.

Below are the regions and their corresponding wage subsidy per worker:

SBWS applications will be accepted from April 16, 2020 to April 30, 2020.

When will the financial assistance be given? 

The first tranche of payout will be from May 1 to 15, 2020.

The second tranche will be from May 16 to 31, 2020.

The schedule may change depending on the timing of the ECQ.

What are the modes of payment?

The wage subsidy can be released through the following options:

  • Withdrawal via employee’s SSS UMID cards enrolled as ATM
  • Withdrawal from employee’s bank account for PESOnet participating banks
  • Employee’s Union Bank Quick Card (partnership with SSS)
  • Employee’s E-wallet like PayMaya
  • Cash pick-up arrangement through remittance transfer companies

Where do we apply for the Small Business Wage Subsidy? 

Application for the Small Business Wage Subsidy is done through the Social Security System website or the My.SSS facility.

Who can apply for the Small Business Wage Subsidy? 

Applications will be completed by the employer on behalf of their employees.

Since applications for the wage subsidy program will be undertaken by the employer on behalf of their employees, small business owners must ensure they are not in the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.

How do we determine if an employer is included in the pre-qualified list of the SBWS?

Using your smartphone or computer with reliable internet connection, follow the steps below to determine if your employer or small business is included in the pre-qualified list of the Small Business Wage Subsidy:

  1. Go to the BIR website at www.bir.gov.ph.
  2. Click on the SBWS icon found on the BIR homepage. This will take you to the SBWS program query homepage.
  3. Enter the 9-digit TIN in the Search field. Ensure that your TIN is valid and owned by you. BIR recommends that you check your Certificate of Registration to ensure the accuracy of information. After encoding the TIN, click on the “Search” button. Small Business Wage Subsidy Program
    • IF YOU ARE QUALIFIED, a green prompt will pop up.
      • If you are a corporation, the details that will show are your registered name or business name and passcode. Copy the passcode.
    • IF YOU ARE QUALIFIED, a green prompt will pop up.
      • If you are a sole proprietorship, the details that will show are your registered name or business name and passcode. Copy the passcode.Small Business Wage Subsidy SBWS
    • IF YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED OR YOU ENTERED A WRONG TIN, a red prompt will pop up.SWBS Financial Assistance
  4. Take note of the “Passcode” as this will be used to apply for the SBWS. After getting the passcode, go to the SSS website (www.sss.gov.ph) to login to your My.SSS account.

How to Contact BIR

For inquiries on Small Business Wage Subsidy pre-qualification or eligibility criteria, you may send an email to BIR at this email address: SBWS_BIRquery@bir.gov.ph

Make sure you include the following information in your email:

  • TIN
  • Registered Name or Business Name
  • Revenue District Office (RDO) where registered
  • Your Message

Note: The pre-qualification does not necessarily mean eligibility to the SBWS program.

The pre-qualified small business employer and its employees must meet the eligibility requirements of the SSS or Social Security System.

Eligibility Criteria for Small Businesses

The business must meet two eligibility criteria:

  1. Size of business and
  2. Impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on the small business’ operations.

The small business must meet both criteria.

Businesses that have been compliant with the regulations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Social Security System (SSS) will be prioritized.

  • Size of business: 
    • The small business — whether a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship — must not be in the BIR’s Large Taxpayer Service (LTS) list.
  • Impact of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ): 
    • Small businesses under both Category A (non-essentials) that are forced to stop operations (i.e., temporary closure or suspension of work) and Category B (quasi-essentials) that are allowed to operate a skeleton force can apply for the wage subsidy for employees who are not able to work and did not get paid during the ECQ.
    • Employers in areas where other forms of quarantine have been put in place by the LGU may also qualify.

The following small businesses will be prioritized:

  1. BIR-registered and complying with tax obligations during the past three years, up to January 2020.
  2. SSS-registered and have paid SSS contributions for the past three years up to January 2020 (the last recorded contribution).

Eligibility Criteria for Employees

Who are eligible?

An employee who fulfills all of the following criteria is eligible:

  • Must be an employee of an eligible small business
  • Must be employed and active as of March 1, 2020 but unable to work due to the ECQ
  • Did not get paid by their employer for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension of work in accordance with Labor Advisory No. 1, Series of 2020
  • Can be of any contract status (e.g., regular, probationary, regular seasonal, project-based, fixed-term)
  • Must be certified by the employer in the application as having met all the above criteria

Note:  Priority will be given to employees that are BIR and SSS-registered and compliant with SSS and BIR regulations.

Note:  Employees who have received a subsidy from the Department of Labor and Employment’s COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) shall be eligible for only the first month of the SBWS to avoid duplication.

Who are not eligible?

The following employees are not eligible:

  • Working from home or part of the skeleton force
  • Those who voluntarily went on the following types of leave – maternity leave, paternity leave, study leave, sabbatical leave, and leaves of the same type – for the entire duration of the ECQ, whether with or without pay
  • Already a recipient of SSS unemployment benefits due to COVID-19, to avoid duplication
  • Those who have settled or in-process SSS final claims (funeral, retirement, death, and total disability)

What are the Conditions to Avail of the Small Business Wage Subsidy Program?

To qualify for the program, the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  • For small businesses

Small businesses under both non-essentials that are forced to stop operations (like temporary closure or suspension of work) and quasi-essentials that are allowed to operate a skeleton force can apply for the wage subsidy for employees who are not able to work and did not get paid during the Enhance Community Quarantine period.

Employers in areas where other forms of quarantine have been put in place by the LGU may also qualify.

Small businesses must maintain the employment status of all eligible employee beneficiaries before the ECQ and throughout the SBWS period.

This will be checked during the monitoring and evaluation stage.

Non-compliance with this condition shall result in the employer refunding to the government the wage subsidy amount.

  • For employees

Employees must be employed and active as of March 1, 2020 but unable to work during the ECQ, did not get paid for at least two weeks during the temporary closure or suspension work.

The beneficiary can be regular, probationary, regular, seasonal, project-based, or fixed-term.

Employees cannot resign during the enhanced community quarantine period.

Sources: DOF, GMA

Disclaimer: The Pinay Investor is not affiliated with the SSS, BIR, and DOF. This post is for information purposes only.

Conclusion

This Small Business Wage Subsidy program is really a big help to middle class workers who have been affected by the ECQ.

Some of my friends who have small businesses are really thankful with the government’s efforts to help them.

We know that not only the poorest of the poor are struggling financially right now.

The middle class employees also deserve to receive financial support.

Let us all help one another and lift each other up during this crisis.

This too shall pass. Kapit lang! Kaya natin ‘to.

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2 Responses

  1. April 19, 2020

    […] Do you want to know how you can apply for the Small Business Wage Subsidy program? […]

  2. May 8, 2020

    […] How to Apply for the Small Business Wage Subsidy through the SSS? […]

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